Alexei Navalny: UK ‘appalled’ by the ‘politically motivated’ detention of activist, says minister

Sophia Sleigh
·2-min read

The UK is “appalled” by the “politically motivated” detention of Alexei Navalny, a UK foreign office minister said today in a strongly worded statement to the Commons.

Opposition activist Mr Navalny was arrested on January 17 on his return to Russia from Germany, where he had been recovering from novichok poisoning blamed on the Russian federal security service (FSB).

Foreign Office minister Wendy Morton said: “The UK is appalled by the politically motivated detention of Alexei Navalny on arbitrary charges.

“Mr Navalny is the victim of a despicable crime and we call for his immediate and unconditional release.”

She condemned the Russian authorities’ “unacceptable use of violence” against peaceful protesters and journalists last weekend.

Ms Morton added: “We keep further sanctions designations under constant review. However, it would not be appropriate to comment at this stage on possible future designations as this could undermine their impact.

"We carefully consider all options under the relevant sanctions regimes."

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This week the foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, US and the EU issued a statement condemning the arrest and detention of Mr Navalny.

Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale, who tabled the urgent question on Mr Navalny, said: "I spoke with the Russian ambassador, he chose to call me this morning, Andrei Kelin, and he made it absolutely clear to me during that call that the Russians regarded Mr Navalny as a prisoner who had broken his bail conditions and therefore would not be released.

"Under those circumstances, I have to say that I still regard this is a gross breach of the Convention on Human Rights and I hope that [Ms Morton] will do everything in her power to underscore that and to make it plain that this conduct is completely unacceptable."